Making massive discounts may be the oldest sales trick in the book – but it’s a tactic that’s still working for the double glazing industry. Is a straightforward quote really too much to ask for?
Given the choice, would you buy a bottle of wine for £4.99, or one that was marked as ‘reduced from £12.99 to £4.99 for today only’? The answer’s obvious to you and me, which is why salesmen use this sneaky tactic to push their products, whether it’s wine or new windows.
Given the double glazing industry’s bad reputation, we wanted to see what really happens when a salesperson visits your home. So we invited 18 reps from the biggest companies to call on our undercover researchers, and recorded their sales patter. We found that 15 of the 18 quoted a high initial price only to cut it dramatically – in many cases, by half. This would clearly leave you with the impression that you’d bagged a bargain.
But have you really bagged a bargain?
Everest offered huge discounts in four out of five of its visits to our undercover researchers – if they signed up on the spot. The biggest ‘saving’ was nearly £17,000. In one of the visits from Anglian, the salesman quoted a high initial price and then admitted, ‘Obviously, you don’t pay this…’ This conversation left us wondering whether anyone pays the first quoted price at all.
The effect of these smoke and mirrors is to leave customers bewildered about what a reasonable price is. And that’s before you take into account dodgy claims about ‘government scrappage scheme’ discounts, for schemes which don’t exist.
Both Anglian and Everest bandied around government funding for discounts, but there isn’t any. So listen out for these claims as they’re a giveaway that your rep isn’t telling the truth.
How to stay savvy
The tactics used by these big firms are the oldest tricks in the book. To stay savvy, go with a firm that’s been recommended by someone you trust, and get three quotes to compare. We recently heard from a customer who’d got the big companies in to quote for his double glazing job – they knocked thousands off their initial prices. But their final quotes were still far more than he ended up paying to a small company that was recommended to him.
We’re pleased to see that a new Double Glazing and Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme has been set up; it’s undoubtedly needed. Still, none of the big players have joined, so it’s a bit of a damp squib. Clearly, there needs to be more accountability for these dodgy sales tactics, so we’ve sent our findings to trading standards officers and asked them to investigate these firms.
Hopefully this will force these companies to understand that we’re not haggling over a bargain buy at the local market. Double glazing is a major investment, and they need to take it seriously.